After police raided their home in a village in the southern Jambyl Region of Kazakhstan where 48 girls were studying the Quran in the school holidays, a husband and wife have both been fined for illegal religious lessons.
AhlulBayt News Agency (ABNA): After police raided their home in a village in the southern Jambyl Region of Kazakhstan where 48 girls were studying the Quran in the school holidays, a husband and wife have both been fined for illegal religious lessons.
The appeals of Aidar Kharsanov and Zarina Manu – both from the Dungan ethnic minority - are due to be heard at Jambyl Regional Court on September 3.
The fines on the couple amount jointly to more than four months' average wages for those in formal work, though both Kharsanov and Manu were described in court as "temporarily not working". In addition to the fines, the lower court also banned both Kharsanov and Manu from any future teaching.
A Prosecutor's Office official insisted that religious teaching in places that the state has not approved is illegal.
Wide-ranging legal amendments which might restrict still further the teaching of religion and increase punishments are in the upper house of parliament, the Senate. The Senate leadership has not yet revealed whether work on the amendments will continue when parliament resumes on September 3, whether they will be sent for further revision or whether they will be abandoned.
Kazakhstan bans individuals from teaching their faith to children unless they have state approval. Also banned is the unapproved publication and distribution of literature about religion which has not undergone prior compulsory state censorship.
Courts routinely hand down fines and bans to punish the exercise of freedom of religion or belief without state approval.
On 20 February, a court in Karkaraly District of Karaganda Region fined Muslim Dastan Abdrakhmanov for teaching his faith to school-age children in his home village of Borlybulak.
Proposed amendments to the Religion Law and a wide range of other laws would have restricted still further the teaching of religion, with extra punishments. The amendments were initially prepared in 2017 by the then Religion and Civil Society Ministry (now the Social Development Ministry). They were approved in parliament's lower house in May 2018 and sent to the upper house, the Senate.
However, the Senate leadership abruptly withdrew the amendments in June without explanation. Members of the Senate's Social and Cultural Development and Science Committee later said the amendments needed more work.
Islam is the largest religion practiced in Kazakhstan, a country in Central Asia. More than 70 percent of the country's population is Muslim.